Edmonton has been looking forward to this for quite some time. The “Ice District” is about to open its doors – starting with the Grand Villa Edmonton Casino on September 7. Three days later, Rogers Place, the new home of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, will open. Once the entire development is complete in 2020, it will become the biggest mixed-use entertainment district in Canada.

This is a big deal for casino players in Edmonton. The old Baccarat Casino will be moving its operations to the Grand Villa; the new gaming area will be twice the size, at 60,000 square feet, with the familiar new-school array of restaurants and bars close at hand. Once the Grand Villa opens, the Baccarat will be demolished – much to the delight of city councillor Scott McKeen. “It was once described as the ugliest building in Edmonton, and I did not disagree with that," McKeen told the Edmonton Sun back in April.

Wrecking Ball
The Baccarat has been a thorn in Edmonton's side pretty much since it opened in October 1996. Two years ago, McKeen told the CBC that he'd spoken with the original architect, who admitted the developers (Carlson Construction of Edmonton) “cheaped out” when it came to the final product. A hotel was supposed to be built alongside the casino, but it never happened.

By 2003, the Baccarat was already on the verge of demolition. The owners and the city almost struck a deal to move the casino to a larger, better location nearby, but those plans were scuttled. Six years later, the Katz Group (under the watch of Oilers owner Daryl Katz) revealed its first plans for the new entertainment district. It took until 2014 for those plans to be fleshed out, and last year, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment finally announced that the Baccarat was on the move.

If you're in Edmonton on September 7, watch for the grand opening ceremony – hosted by former Oilers defenseman Jason Strudwick. There will be food and drink and door prizes. Inside the Grand Villa, you'll find 600 slot machines and 24 gaming tables. No word yet on whether there will be a demolition party for the Baccarat.